Both clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers will be required to get vaccine under new CMS mandate
Healthcare workers in the U.S. will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, according to a new order from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The mandate will affect around 17 million healthcare workers in 76,000 facilities, according to the agency.
Healthcare workers will have no choice not to get vaccinated under the new mandate. A prior requirement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allowed workers to remain unvaccinated so long as they submitted to regular COVID-19 tests.
The latest mandate was released in conjunction with a new OSHA requirement that businesses with 100 or more employees must mandate they get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing by Jan 4.
“Ensuring patient safety and protection from COVID-19 has been the focus of our efforts in combatting the pandemic and the constantly evolving challenges we’re seeing,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a release. “Today’s action addresses the risk of unvaccinated health care staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation’s health care system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them.”
Healthcare facilities — such as hospitals, home health agencies, long-term care facilities, and dialysis facilities, among others — that are given federal funding by Medicare or Medicaid also must ensure all of their staff have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 5.
Both clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers must abide by the new mandate, including those that are working in the field as volunteers, students, or under an outside contract agreement.
“The prevalence of COVID-19, in particular the Delta variant, within health care settings increases the risk of unvaccinated staff contracting the virus and transmitting the virus to patients,” CMS said in a release. “When health care staff cannot work because of illness or exposure to COVID-19, the strain on the health care system becomes more severe and further limits patient access to safe and essential care.”
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